Unjust Ban Of Craig Gammie Costing Taxpayers Tens Of Thousands (3-26)


The OSST August 20 article “South Bruce Peninsula Council Critic Not Allowed At Municipal Meetings” was fair and reasonably unbiased, but it missed some key information.

On November 20, 2012 I was banned from town hall.  On November 28th I applied to the court to quash the ban.  On May 23rd Judge Conlan recommended I abandon my application in favour of an out-of-court discussion process in which the town would decide whether to keep the resolution as is, or drop the resolution, or “vary” the resolution somewhere between “drop” and “keep”. I consented on the conditions that the ban be mostly lifted during the discussions, and that council hear my submissions by the end of July, and that council provide a written decision with reasons within 30 days of my oral submission, and that if I did not like the council decision or council’s reasons for its decision, I could bring the matter right back to court and once again ask the court to quash.

Council heard my submissions, and council varied the resolution, but instead of varying between “drop” and “keep as is”, council expanded and extended the ban.

I applied to the court again to have the resolution quashed.

On August 20 administrator Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence handed me a report that gave the decision to ban me and “reasons” for the decision.  The report is on my website at craiggammie.com.

But council did not see the report, and so could not have vetted or approved or “provided”, as was required by the court order of May 23rd, the “reasons”.  Council breached the court order.

Because the reasons are almost verbatim from John Close’s sworn affidavits of December 18 and December 20, which were not shared with council, I know that the “reasons” are not council’s but are, rather, John Close’s.

The reasons that John Close provided for banning me were:

1.     That I secretly and intentionally recorded two closed sessions,

2.     That I exhibited a pattern of questionable behavior, and,

3.     That I failed to demonstrate remorse for my questionable behavior and that I failed to understand “why [my] past behavior has been questionable”.  

The first allegation (secretly and intentionally recorded) is false. There is clear and ample evidence that both recordings were accidental rather than intentional.  I never even had possession of the recordings.  And on July 24th I resolved the problem of accidental recordings by committing not to ever bring a recorder to any council meeting.

The second allegation (questionable behavior) is too nebulous to have any meaning, but in its implied meaning of unlawful or even bad behavior is false. 

John Close’s examples of my “questionable behavior” include these allegations: bringing offensive and defamatory signs into council chambers; threatening Mike McMillan (twice); criminally assaulting Mark Wunderlich; intimidating and harassing staff; and, threatening the Clerk. Not included in the August 20 “examples”, but included in his affidavit of December 20 and also in his e-mails and witness statements, is the very serious allegation that I have been practicing engineering without a license.

The August 20 allegations and the engineering-without-a-license allegation are false, and are unsupportable, and have not been “questioned” in any legitimate court, and are unproven in any court, and have not been proven anywhere else.  (My rebuttals to all of John Close’s false allegations are in my submission to the court of February 7, which is on my website.)

All of John Close’s “questionable behavior” allegations are malicious and vexations, made not for any proper purpose (such as preventing accidental recordings), but rather to complement John Close’s campaign to stop me (and by example others) from participating in our democratic public policy process, and to stop me (and others) from criticizing his actions.

John Close’s reason number three for banning me (I failed to show remorse) is just plain absurd.  Real judges may consider remorse during a sentencing phase, after (and only after) the accused has been properly and fairly tried, and has been found guilty.  No sensible person expects an accused person to feel remorse for any act that they have not committed and for any act for which there is no charge and no finding of guilt. The  accusations against me are no more than allegations.  No court of competent jurisdiction has even considered whether I have committed any offense.

John Close’s inclusion of “demonstrated no remorse or understanding” makes it clear that he believes that he, as mayor, is the supreme, competent, omniscient, omnipotent, infallible, and fully authorized judge of all things in TSBP (and everywhere else).

“Mayor Supreme” is delusional. “Mayor Supreme” is unfit for office.

And in banning me, Mayor Supreme has already cost the taxpayers about $20,000 in legal fees, and will cost in my estimate at least another $25,000.

John Close’s campaign has not just been against me.  He has also made false allegations against John Schnurr, Rick Lyttle, and Orma Lyttle, and against three as yet unidentified bloggers (via what was ostensibly Rhonda Cook’s $700,000 lawsuit), and against  committee members who dared to speak up, and against many others.

So far John Close’s campaign against me has been a very serious inconvenience, but the harm to me has been small compared to the damages to others, many of whose physical and financial health have suffered.

And the general taxpayers have suffered.  In my estimate, much of the 2012 legal budget excess ($120,000) and much of the 2013 budget increase ($400,000) are for improper contributions to John Close’s personal campaign against his perceived opponents.

In his press releases and interviews of February 4 and May 24, 2011 John Close alleged that his opponents were “criminals”, and vowed to bring them to justice.  The allegations were unfounded, but the vow remained.

It has to stop.  It is not fair to the taxpayers.  And it is not right.

Craig Gammie

TSBP

August 20 Agenda items: Oliphant Beaches management plan; $300,000 hospitals grant request; Bruce Nuclear support request – Craig Gammie 3-25


Agenda item 8.14 CLK84-2013 Town Rights on Lake Beds

Spring of 2010 or earlier access to Oliphant beaches discussion started, with residents raising concerns about unrestricted vehicular access, and other issues.

Sometime in 2011 posts were installed to restrict access.

In the September 18, 2012 Council meeting Councillor Turner made a report recommending that the posts be removed. In the report he indicated:

“Information provided by the OPP indicates that the town may hold liability should an accident result from the placement of posts, rocks and trenches.”

and

“This opinion is echoed by our town insurer.”

But when asked to provide evidence of this “information” from the OPP and the “information” from the “town’s insurer”, Mr. Turner could not. Mr. Turner claimed that the correspondence was only oral. I doubt that there was any such correspondence at all.

Also in the September 18, 2012 council meeting, Councillor Turner and Councillor McKenzie claimed that there was a petition to remove the posts signed by many Oliphant residents. But when asked to produce the signed petition for inspections and validity checks, Councillors Turner and McKenzie would not. I believe that the petition was invalid, if it even ever existed.

In spite of the misinformation presented to council, council resolved to remove the posts and the posts were removed and cars were once again on the beach with no restrictions.

In the August 6, 2013 council meeting concerns were again raised about cars on the Oliphant beach, and general lack of control, and council was asked to take action.

The clerk’s report CLK84-2013, in the August 20, 2013 agenda, is the response to the request for council action.

But instead of action, the Clerk’s report is a blueprint for inaction. The excuses for the inaction are the lamest I have heard yet.

Clerk report “Point 1” says:

“Perhaps the most important point is the fact that there is a land claim on the Lake Bed. As a general rule and in all other facets of governance, we do not make changes to the land nor do we give approval for others to make changes to lands which are subject to land claim ..”

Rubbish: The posts were put in while there were two relevant land claims. The posts were removed while there were two land claims. These were “changes”. To say that “we do not make changes to the land nor do we give approval for others to make changes to lands which are subject to land claim” is pure hypocrisy. It’s also ridiculous. Council’s role is to govern. You cannot let land claims halt the process of governance unless the courts say you must. And the courts, to my knowledge have not said that.

Clerk report Point 2 says:

The MNR has informed staff that ambulatory or riparian rights extend to those properties which border on bodies of water. ……. Our solicitor has indicated that the riparian rights are not automatic and that a deed must indicate that the property boundaries are subject to water level changes in order for the riparian rights to be established. As such, a title search of all shoreline properties would be required to establish the existence of riparian rights.

A reporting of what the MNR may have told staff and what the town’s solicitor may have indicated is totally useless hearsay. I do not believe that the MNR said what the Clerk says the MNR said. And the town’s solicitor has no credibility. Council and the public need to see a written report from the MNR and a written report from the solicitor so that council and the public can determine whether the Clerk is reporting accurately and so that council and the public can provide rebuttal arguments as warranted and necessary.

Until we see and review those reports, the clerk’s statements should be taken as unreliable.

Clerk report Point 3 says:

A survey would be required to establish property boundaries should riparian rights be established. In order for there to be rules and regulations established, it would be prudent to have boundaries within which the rules would be enforced. A survey would be a huge undertaking and would be subject to the results of the tile searches.

Riparian rights are not the issue. Riparian rights is a red herring. The issues are whether the Oliphant beach is in the geographical boundaries of the town of south bruce peninsula, and whether the TSBP has jurisdiction to govern the beach. And until someone demonstrates otherwise, the answers are “yes” and “yes”.

Clerk report Point 4 says:

With the current bylaw enforcement compliment, it would be very difficult to establish further beach areas which would require patrol and enforcement.

I believe the clerk is suggesting, by implication, that we should not make by-laws, no matter how necessary, if we haven’t got the staff to enforce them.

This is a ridiculous suggestion. By-laws should be made to protect the public interest. Patrol would be nice, but a by-law can be very effective without it. If there is an infraction citizens can call the by-laws officer, or call the police, or lay charges themselves.

And even if we had none of these enforcement avenues, the by-laws, and the access restrictions, and the signage would go a long way towards correcting the problems.

Insufficient by-laws officers is not a valid reason for inaction.

In her report the clerk presents two options.

Option 1 is to begin talks with Saugeen Ojibway First Nations, establish whether we have ownership and if we do proceed accordingly. This is a good thing to do sometime, but it is unnecessary for addressing the current concerns. And it’s already being done. And it would be a very lengthy and expensive process. It might be better expressed as the “delay option”.

Option 2 is to maintain the status quo. This would be unacceptable.

But the real problem with the Clerk’s report is that it omits an obvious third option, which is to put the posts and other control features back in to restrict vehicle access and to make an Oliphant dynamic beach bylaw to protect the public and the environment. In other words, manage the shore lands per the residents’ recommendation of August 6.

Agenda item 7.2 Bruce Peninsula Health Services Foundation, Richard Bouillon and Helen Thomson-Cancer Centre Priority Needs and Request for Funding Support

Like many requests for funding from the treasury, this one is for a very noble cause.

But the rule is that donations to charitable and similar organizations must be private decisions. The rule is that council should not be deciding that private citizens will donate, through property taxes, to charity, or to the hospitals. Such granting is Ultra Vires council’s authority.

Health care is provincial. Health care is provincially funded. The Health Services Foundation should be asking Bruce Walker (MPP), not council, for assistance.

Besides, there is some false information in the request.

The request for funding indicates:

The Ministry of Health does not fund routine capital expenditures and does not even recognize capital depreciation as a cost to the hospital.

This is false. The ministry absolutely does fund capital expenditures. It does not however fund every request. And if the ministry funds capital expenditures, that automatically recognizes depreciation.

The request for funding also implies that the town’s donation of $300,000 will boost the local economy. This is likely false. Taking another $300,000 out of the pockets of the residents is unlikely to boost the local economy, and could make it worse.

It is unfortunate, but council must decline the request.

Instead of granting the request Council should recommend that the delegation take their campaign directly to the residents, so that those residents who are in a position to support this noble cause, and who wish to support the noble cause, can do so of their own free will. Council members should feel free to contribute (their own money), and should feel free to encourage residents to donate.

I hereby pledge $50.

Agenda item 8.17 Bowman08-2013 Long Term Energy Plan

The Bowman report indicates:

“Bruce Power is requesting letters of support for Bruce Power’s continued role of 6,300 MW or 8 units.”

This is not a huge issue as Bruce Power is not asking for taxpayers’ money. But there’s a principle at stake.

Energy generation and transmission are provincial issues. Energy generation and transmission are not council issues. Council has no business taking a stand on energy or Nuclear Energy or Bruce Power as if it was the stand of the people of the TSBP. No wonder council can’t govern the town. They’re too busy pretending they are the voice of the people on all issues, in all forums. They’re too busy pretending to be Bill Walker and Larry Miller. Council members don’t understand what they were elected to do.

Council should decline the request for support.

——————————————————————————

The pdf version of the full August 6 agenda package is at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=55402

An Html version is at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=55400

Craig

John Close is using the treasury as his personal war-chest (Craig Gammie Commentary 3-24)


 

Item 7.4 on the August 6 council agenda reads:

7.4 4:30 pm Eric Davis, Miller Thomson-Resolution R-793-2012 (this delegation will be heard in Closed Session)

Item 4.4 reads:

4.4 Litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board AND Advice that is subject to solicitor client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose (Resolution R-793-2012)

On November 20, 2012 I was banned from town hall by resolution 793. I immediately applied to the courts to have the resolution quashed.

In court on May 23 I agreed to withdraw the application-to-quash conditional upon a court order: that council holds a special meeting to hear my submissions on the ban; that council decides whether to revoke the ban; that council provides reasons for their decisions; that the ban is suspended until the preceding conditions are met.

The special meeting was held July 24th.

In the special meeting I demonstrated that the ban made no sense and I recommended that council revoke the ban.

I also demonstrated to council that John Close had recognized that the grounds for the ban were so weak that quashing of the by-law by the courts was inevitable. I also submitted evidence that in desperation to save resolution 793 and keep me away from town hall John Close made up a pile of lies about me and submitted them to the court as council’s position, but without council approval and without council knowledge.

John Close’s false allegations, which but for one were submitted to the court as council’s (false) allegations, included:

 that I illegally offered professional engineering services

 that I twice willfully and secretly attempted to record closed session;

 that I flaunting a council warning,

 that I harassed female staff,

 that I threatened female staff,

 that I intimidated female staff,

 that I assaulted Mark Wunderlich,

 that I assaulted Mike McMillan,

 that I disrupted meetings with signs,

 that I defamed staff by uttering false and harmful allegations on the blog ,

 and that I generally all kinds of bad, bad things.

At the July 24th meeting I suggested that for John Close to have submitted his pack of lies to the court as if it were council’s position was both misconduct and a breach of trust.

I also submitted to council that John Close’s shenanigans and his pack of lies and his desperate attempt to shut out anyone whom he considers an opponent has cost the taxpayers dearly.

I also made clear to council that any further attempts to present John Close’s pack of lies as council’s position will cost the taxpayer’s much, much more, and that councillors have a duty to put an end to John Close’s misconduct and breaches of trust.

So what was John Close’s reaction?

John Close has brought in Eric Davis, Miller Thompson Lawyer from Waterloo, to the closed session of August 6, to talk about resolution 793, the resolution that banned me from council, the resolution that was suspended by court order, and the application that was withdrawn, and that is no longer before the courts, and that is no longer a legal matter.

Bringing in lawyer Davis is another unjustifiable $6000 hit to the pockets of the taxpayers. Just to fight John Close’s personal battles.

John Close is confiscating the hard-earned money that belongs to the residents of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula and is using it to fight his private war against his perceived opponents.

The resolution 793 issue is not the first time that John Close has raided the treasury to fight his perceived opponents.

What about the 2012 $700,000 defamation lawsuit against John Shnurr, Rick Lyttle, Orma Lyttle and me? All this time we (me included) incorrectly characterized that lawsuit as Rhonda Cook’s personal vendetta. But while it had Rhonda’s name on it, it turns out that it was not Rhonda Cook’s initiative at all. Contrary to appearances, it was really John Close’s vendetta against his perceived opponents. And it was all paid for by taxpayers. And taxpayers are still paying. Unnecessarily. First of all the lawsuit never should have been made. It was groundless and frivolous and vexatious from the start. And it never would have been made if council had not committed to paying Rhonda’s legal fees and also any settlement against her. And second the counterclaim against Rhonda Cook and the related claim against the town for champerty and maintenance could have, in my view, been settled long ago at very low cost to the taxpayers.

Regarding the champerty and maintenance lawsuit, there were settlement offers made, but the offers never even got to council. Council was not even made aware of the offers. It appears to me that John Close and his confederates, and not council, made the decision not to even consider the offers.

But when you think about it, the reason council never heard about the settlement offers is crystal clear.

John Close is using the treasury for his personal war against his opponents, in that case John Schnurr. So John’s war is costing John Close nothing. Why would he tell council about a settlement offer? If council knew of a settlement offer council might actually decide to settle, and that would end the matter. And that would be to John Close’s personal disadvantage. (And to the disadvantage of John’s lawyer buddies”.) So council were not told. And council did not know. And the battle continues, and the legal bills keep piling up. And the burden on the taxpayers has gone through the roof. All so John Close can try to silence one of his perceived opponents.

More recently John Close inappropriately used the people’s money to hire a lawyer to give me notice to stay off John Close’s Red Bay property. It is fair and legal for John Close to give me such notice. And I will heed the notice. But it is wrong and unacceptable for John Close to pay the lawyers with taxpayers’ money. If John Close wants me to stay off his property that’s a personal matter, and John Close should and must pay the lawyer himself.

And then when I protested to council about John Close using taxpayers’ money to pay a lawyer for dealing with a clearly private matter, John paid that same lawyer, once again using treasury funds, to threaten me with some sort of lawsuit if I ever tried again to protest to council about John Close using taxpayers’ money to pay that same lawyer for dealing with that clearly private matter.

I did not, of course, stop corresponding with council, or with John Close. And every time I protested to council, the lawyer just kept repeating the threat. The lawyer’s threats turned out to be nothing but stupid, arrogant, pompous, bombastic puffery. But the real issue is that the puffery and this little part of John Close’s personal war against his perceived opponents has without justification cost the taxpayers a big pile of money. At least $10,000. And counting. And because I cannot be threatened into not corresponding with council, there will likely be even more costs.

There is more. Legal costs were about $120,000 over budget in 2012. In my estimate, much of the extra was to fight John Close’s personal battles against his perceived opponents.

The legal budget in 2013 is four hundred thousand dollars higher than the 2012 legal budget. Again, in my estimate, much of the budget increase is to fight John Close’s personal battles against his perceived opponents.

It has to stop. It is not fair to the taxpayer’s. And it is not right. Where is the rest of council? Where are the elected representatives? Where are the people whose duty it is to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen?

What are they doing about this pillaging of the treasury?

Craig

Airport Advocates want more, and more, and more taxpayers’ money (Craig Gammie 3-23)


August 6 agenda item 8.3 reads:

AIR02-2013 Request for Funding to Prepare a Business Plan and Strategic Plan for the Airport

The related Agenda item 11.1 reads:

CLK75-2013 Transport Canada Airport Report

In item 8.3 Dwight Burley, chair of the joint airport committee, is asking for money for a business plan and a strategic plan for the Wiarton-Keppel Airport.

The request should be denied. It is premature to do either a business plan and a strategic plan.

Instead council needs to make a decision on whether the Town of South Bruce Peninsula should even be involved in the airport.

And the alternatives considered must include shutting the airport down, and refusing to sink any more taxpayers’ money into it.

Agenda item 11.1 is on the agenda as a “matter of urgency”. It appears that Transport Canada did an inspection, found some problems related to runway condition and lighting, and called for a corrective action plan by August 30, 2013. Not clear in the report is that failure to come up with a corrective action plan acceptable to Transport Canada could result in loss of the current level of certification, and possibly some activity constraints.

The airport board and staff in both municipalities and some council members are trying to create a crisis here. They are trying to use their manufactured crisis to get both councils to make a hasty decision, without proper discussion or decision process, and without proper consultation with the residents of the Town whose wallets are being eyed so greedily.

The airport board and staff have tried to use the crisis to con council and the people into believing that there are only two alternatives, those being:

1) direct the airport board to prepare a corrective action plan including cost estimates and budget for repairs in a future year, and,

2), direct the airport board to prepare a corrective action plan and immediately move forward with repairs.

The problem with the report is that it misses at least two very important alternatives, being 3) do nothing and let the certification lapse, constraining activity as necessary, and 4) sell our share to private investors or to Georgian Bluffs.

Shutting the airport down is not even mentioned in the staff report. It is as if staff and some council have already made the decision, and to hell with the residents who will pay the costs.

Shutting the airport down and selling it must be considered as alternatives. And they must be seriously considered. Not having these on the list of alternatives is a scam and an insult to the people of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.

(This has the appearance of another John Close airport scam. Remember back in 2012 our crafty mayor tried to give our share of the airport to Georgian Bluffs and get from Georgian Bluffs in return only some property that we already owned.)

Either of the staff options will cost the taxpayers a fortune. And will keep on soaking up $290,000 deficits out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

That’s $145,000 per municipality. That adds 2 per cent to our property tax hit.

And gives nothing to the taxpayers in return.

Council should make the airport decision very carefully, without unwarranted haste. And the decision should be made for the residents of the municipalities, not for the members of the airport board or for the small group of people who privately benefit from continued operation of the airport, and who privately benefit from the continued subsidization of the airport by the residents of both municipalities. The decision must be made using a proper, logical, open, and transparent decision process.

And council should tell the crisis manipulators that if the choice is between making the decision fast and making the decision right, it will be made right.

——————————————————————————

The pdf version of the full August 6 agenda package is at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=55158

An Html version is at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=55156

Craig